“Adopt the peace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The silence of the morning was broken by the very distinctive calls of male lions calling, but who could it be?

We headed south from camp to the last source of the sound… We turned off the car to listen.  A woodland kingfisher repeatedly called and displayed, showing off his beautifully coloured wings, in the Marula branches above us. Another replied to our right. Time seemed to stand still in anticipation, and then we heard them…”they’re close mfo! PHAMBA!” Mike Sithole said to me as he took up seat next to me indicating we go right. A battered and bruised Majingilane male gave us a stare as he sat down near a dam close to the camps and started a call that sounded like it was being summoned from the bowls of the earth beneath him. He was shortly joined by two of his brothers and they called in unison no more than 20 feet away.

majingilane lion

Not a single person moved in the vehicle until the lions did. Their general movements were towards the airstrip and we were hopeful they would settle there for a short while. We positioned ourselves to the south of the airstrip in the hope that we would get another chance to witness the calls of these three magnificent cats. Our wishes were granted…

majingilane lion

majingilane lion

majingilane lion

majingilane lion

We were all hugely satisfied with the sighting we had been privy to but just when things looked like they might start to settle down, the coalition got up and began to move towards the river.  To see lions cross a body of water is truly a sight to behold and something I hope that everybody is fortunate enough to witness. So we crossed the river with a magical plan in place, sure that they would cross where we had positioned ourselves and we’d be able to capture them coming towards us in soft morning light. This was until the sun decided to burn off the cloud cover and instantly changed the temperature by what felt like 30 degrees celsius. But on we sat, ever hopeful that they would appear on the bank opposite us. About an hour and a half later when we were down to our last bottle of water we decided to cross back over the river to see where they may have settled. As we neared a dam outside Pioneer Camp we saw a sight that many safari goers have seen before. There in the shade of a Tamboti thicket were three huge lumps with a couple of limbs sticking into the air, snoring their heads off. We decided it was time for breakfast.

The day’s heat increased rapidly but time seemed to slow for me. The hours that passed that day were some of the longest of my life as I grew ever more hopeful that we would indeed see the Majingilane males cross the river. Mike Sithole and I met early to discuss where we thought they would cross and what time they would do it. The bets were on and game drive time was approaching.

We headed straight to the last position of the passed out felines only to find… three Majingilane males in exactly the same position as we had left them hours earlier. The feeling of excitement quickly faded into the realisation that we would now have to sit for hours in the heat just in case these seemingly unconscious giants, lying in the only available shade, decide to move.

The sun had faded when the first male lifted his head to check his surroundings. He lazily yawned and began to groom himself. After a few minutes he yawned again and began to approach his brothers. One by one he began to wake them until we once again had movement. They started to head towards the banks of the Sand River and we raced across at one of the crossing points to await the approaching lions.

majingilane lion

majingilane lion

majingilane lion

The moments that followed as the three males slowly crossed the sometimes shoulder deep water will stay with me with me forever. It was completely worth the patience and effort and I hope you enjoy the photographs as much as we enjoyed those incredible few moments.

majingilane lion

majingilane lion

majingilane lion

majingilane lion

Filed under Lions Wildlife

About the Author

Nick Kleer

Field Guide

Nick joined the Londolozi team from Thornybush Game Reserve, and immediately began revealing his photographic potential, especially in the passion with which he pursued knowledge. An almost fanatical approach to improving his photography has seen him gain a rapid understanding of all the ...

More stories by Nick


on What do Lions Dream Of?
    Marion Vollborn says:

    Great Images!
    The day was so special and I’m thankfull I was there.
    Many greetings

    Ann Seagle says:

    WOW! What an experience.

    Ricardo says:

    Any additional info on Dark Mane’s bruises? Was it just some brothers’ scuffle or was there anything else involved now that they seem to regularly be in what is/was Matimba territory for a while? The Matimbas seem to have their work cut out for them…

    Jenny says:

    Nick those are fabulous photos – what an experience and thanks for sharing. Was the wound of the first mentioned Majingilane sustained in a fight?

    Loretta says:

    What amazing pictures and an amazing story to go with it. I could easily have sat with you for all of those hours watching these magnificent boys. I hope they steer clear of the Matimbas.

    Marija says:

    Great photos and text! Majingis are one of my favorite coalitions out there . Dark Mane is carring that nasty wound for some time now. Seems also quite infected and swelled. Were they fighting recently?. And if the answer is affirmative, which lions they were fighting?. Can you give us more information about current lion dynamics? Thanks and keep up the good work! Happy Holidays from Italy 🙂

    Tim Musumba says:

    That is Dark Mane with the gash below his left eye.I wonder who they might have been fighting with!!

    sau says:

    beautiful pictures of these great cats.

    Edouard Paiva says:

    Nick Kleer it is great to see these 3 powerful Black maned Lions, do you know if they did a reasearch on the size and weight of Lions of Londolozi? They really look big

    Danny says:

    It seems Hipscar prefers to hold down the fort further west. Do you ever see him?

    Kim Jacobson says:

    Sensational photography and incredible sighting!!

    Jill Larone says:

    Great sighting of the Majingilane and fantastic pictures! Hopefully that wound will heal up soon. Thanks for the great update on my favourite coalition Nick!

    Wendy Hawkins says:

    Wow Nick these old boys never cease to amaze me with their courage & determination and battered & bruised as they are, they are still a magnificent sight to behold! Thank you for these amazing pictures & write up. Have a very Happy Christmas with your Londi family 🙂

    Kevin says:

    Hi Nick,
    thanks for the photos, where is the 4th Male? Is he still alive?

    Susan Strauss says:

    Nick, absolutely stunning images. Thank you for your persistence!

    Callum Evans says:

    Absolutely brilliant blog and photographs. An amazing encounter

    Barbara Weyand says:

    Thank you for your knowledge and patience to capture these wonderful photos, and share them on the Londolozi blog. Every day I look forward to viewing my one and only blog. The posts are truly special.
    Many everyone at a Londolozi enjoy a wonderful holiday season.
    Barbara Weyand

    Anastasia Dionyssiou says:

    These lions and photos of them are incredible. How did you capture such clear pictures with them moving in such low light?

    Henk says:

    How many members are still alive of the Majingilane?

    Amy Attenborough says:

    Hi Henk. There are four..

    carl says:

    where is the 4th male?

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